CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Schools are usually empty in the summer, but Big Otter Elementary School in Clay County is one of the few places with power. And ever since Sunday, it’s been acting as a shelter, housing dozens of families without power.
They gym is now filled with beds, the library is a make-shift hospital and classrooms are homes to families.
But that’s not all. The school is also acting as a meal distribution center for the entire county, serving thousands of meals a day!
Ever since the power went out on Friday night, schools officials emptied their main freezer that provides food to every school in the county. That food is now being cooked at Big Otter and taken around the county to feed thousands of families in need.
It’s a busy day in the kitchen of Big Otter Elementary School.
Dozens of volunteers are preparing hot meals to feed thousands without power in Clay County.
"It's wonderful. I've never seen nothing like this really. This is the first time I've ever had to be in a shelter but thank God for all of these wonderful people," said Marvis Douglas, who’s been without power since Friday.
School officials went from school to school on Saturday taking whatever food they could before it could go bad, bringing it to Big Otter, the only school in the county with power.
"We've had, I'm guessing, 10 truck loads of food that we have brought from our other schools that we can use in this effort," said Melinda Isaacs, Principal, Clay County High School.
An effort that’s feeding thousands.
"Yesterday, we prepared 3200 meals and we're on tap today for that to increase," said Isaacs.
On Thursday, they made more than 700 breakfasts and are making more than a thousand lunches. These meals are then packed up, put on a bus and sent around the county. Volunteers said some folks haven’t eaten in days, others are grateful for any help they can get.
"She came in tears and thanked everyone,” said Greg Legg, bus driver volunteer. “She's one of the people that always gives to the community. And it was worth every ounce of effort we put out to anyone we help."
And it’s all being made possible thanks to the number of people working in the kitchen. All of which are volunteers.
"God has blessed us so much and they said they needed volunteers and he has blessed me throughout this day being able to help somebody else," said Rebecca Adkins, volunteer.
Working together to make sure everyone in the county is taken care of.
The school is delivering food to all of Clay County as well as parts of Roane and Calhoun County.
If you know someone who needs food, you can give the school a call or stop by one of the fire departments in the county.
School officials said they’ll be keeping the school open as a shelter, 24-7, until further notice.
They said they’ve been receiving donations to make this happen. A church in Pittsburgh has given them money, as well as basic necessities including soap and paper towels.